Baby swimming is not only great fun, it’s also a fantastic activity to enhance your baby’s physical development as well as his social and behavioural habits.
Now is the time to take the plunge so you can both feel confident and comfortable in the water. It’s best not to wait until you arrive at a holiday destination to introduce your baby to the water as he may have his routine disrupted and this is not a good time to try him with yet another new experience.
When to start
There is no age limit when you should or shouldn’t take your baby swimming. It’s entirely up to you and you don’t need to wait until he is fully immunised. Visit www.immunisation.org.uk for more information.
What’s the best way to introduce my baby to the water?
Babies feel more secure in smaller environments, so why not start off with a deep bath to build up his confidence. It’s a good idea to introduce a bath toy which you can bring with you to the pool to familiarise your baby to his new surroundings. Time your trip between feeds and well before he is due a sleep and keep trips to the pool relatively short until your baby gains enough confidence in the water.
What should my baby wear in the pool?
Disposable swimpants are a must!! Although not legally required most pools insist you wear them. Disposable swimpants are a far more hygienic and safe way to enjoy a swim session as they do not swell up in the water like regular nappies.
What else do I need to pack?
- Towels – for you and baby. Your baby, especially if he’s newborn, will get cold very quickly so it is important to have a dry towel to hand when you come out of the pool. A hooded towel is ideal as you can wrap him up snugly whilst you get changed.
- Toy – if you are still relatively new to the pool, a bath toy can be one way of familiarising your baby with his environment.
- Bottle/snack – your little one will probably be hungry after your time in the pool so it is advised to have something to eat on hand.
- Nappies for changing – wipes, nappy sacks and all the other essentials you would normally carry in your bag!
So what does a baby friendly pool mean?
Swimming pools will be approved based on a range of criteria including their health and safety procedures, the availability of baby swimming classes and family sessions, the changing room facilities and hygiene including pool’s swim pant guidelines.
What do I do if my baby does not like the water?
Don’t panic. It may not be the water he doesn’t like. Chances are he finds the scale of it a little intimidating. Go back to the bath. Take it slowly and in time his confidence will grow again. Remember to remain smiley and happy and talk to your baby during your time in the water – be positive. It is important to remember baby swimming is a gradual process and one that cannot be rushed. Go at your baby’s pace and make sure you both have fun.
What if I have a toddler as well as a baby?
Guidelines set by the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management (ISRM) recommend one carer to every child under the age of four. It is always advisable to check with your swimming pool before going.
Visit www.isrm.co.uk for more information.